Integrating Social Media Features into eLearning Software

June 16, 2022 • 105 Views • 13 min read

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Tetiana Stoyko

CTO & Co-Founder

There is no need to explain why is it important to adapt and integrate various features from different applications and industries. Obviously, each of them has a unique approach, which is its main advantage. Of course, everyone is trying to develop the best product possible, improving the strengths and trying to cover the weaknesses. This is why it is worth looking at competitors and following their success.

We are going to discuss the possibilities to integrate social media features into e-learning software. At first sight, it seems impossible, because these are 2 independent industries that have almost nothing in common. Nevertheless, it is not quite correct. So what are the options?

As Two Independent Platforms

The first idea that comes to mind, is the possible cooperation between both e-learning platforms and Social Media. Actually, it is a very popular scheme. Mostly, companies and corporations are presented on social media as well as on the web. Such presence has already become an essential aspect of brand representation.

In our case, it is more about providing part of educational processes on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. Thanks to platform specifics it is partly possible. Why partly?

Obviously, mostly these media are used as individual blogs with communicative possibilities. Even though these features are working great, they are too limited for educational purposes. For instance, it would be hard to conduct an online lesson on Instagram, allowing not only to listen to the teacher but to have the possibility to answer during the classes.

In fact, the best way to use social media as an independent platform in the education sector is to use them for advertising purposes. Why is it so? Because, they are great communicational platforms with the possibility to spread the information through the grapevine, accessing a lot of individual users. At the same time, it is not so comfortable to be used for online education.

Actually, e-learning software requires much more features than posting. In addition to the option of online streaming classes and conferencing with a group of students, there is also accessibility to post and read the materials like books or articles, submit homework, pass the tests, grade and write feedback, etc.

As a result, we can conclude that social media is not suitable as a base platform for educational purposes due to the fact, that they do not provide other essential features. Even so, it doesn’t mean that there is no additional use of social media except for advertisements for e-learning.

It has a lot of very useful options that have proven their reliability and can be adapted for e-learning software applications.

What Social Media Features To Choose?

Obviously, most of these common features are related to content making and communication between users. Using them can help to improve the educational peer-to-peer network, known as social learning. Integration of social media features creates an opportunity to improve the student-centric approach and increase user engagement. So what are the options?

Communication Improvement

Communication possibilities are essential in any sphere. Especially important they are in the e-learning industry. Of course, online education can be provided without communication. In this case, students watch streams or pre-recorded videos from a tutor with the presentation of the material and explanations of mostly unclear aspects, or they read recommended articles and books. At the end of such a course, students pass the tests and that’s all.

Nevertheless, there is no need to explain why online education will be better with communication options. Clearly, in-app messaging or calls, private or group ones, stimulate users to spend more time in the app. A variety of additional communicational features increases the activity on the platform and allows asking questions as well as sharing experiences inside the community. This results in enhancing the peer-to-peer network interactions.

In addition, such options as reactions (likes, dislikes, emojis, etc) and commenting posts or media can be used to enhance student-centric ecology for effective e-learning.

User-Generated Content

One of the most crucial functions embodied in every social media - is the possibility to generate your own content. This helps to increase user engagement by suppling regular content updates. As a result, there is always something new to watch, listen to, or read.

Nevertheless, the generation of the content is not the only aspect to consider. It is not always working as supposed to. Various management issues may appear when each user can generate content. The bigger community is - the more social networking content is available. Consequently, it is harder not only to moderate it but to find the user, that is interested in it. In other words, it is not the same, so must be grouped by essential factors like topics, interests, etc.

Subscriptions and Recommendations

In the case of social media, there are various ways to solve the foregoing issue. For example, creating a subscription option can handle sorting the content by implementing it into the peer-to-peer network, when users can see what their “followings” and “followers” are posting.

Another great example of the content distribution between users is recommendations. Using Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence in combination with data about user’s activity on the platform allows for generating the recommendation list. These suggestions are based on likes, reposts, and any other interaction option. Once again, it can be used to promote a student-centric approach. Eventually, on the online learning platforms, the recommendations option can be used for creating strategies for diverse learners.

Groups of Interests

Grouping is also a great idea to borrow. In addition to the usual peer-to-peer network, which consists of regular users with equal opportunities, groups of interests can be added. So, the student will have an opportunity to subscribe to groups or channels as well.

Usually, they are interacted with each other in a hierarchical way, when there are various levels of access. For instance, there are administrators, who have most of the options like posting or editing content and approving suggested content on the one hand. On the flip side, there are usual subscribers, that can interact with the content and each other, commenting, etc.

This concept allows implementing slight censorship and ranking of the content, to decide which should or shouldn’t be presented.

Why Integrate Social Media Features In E-Learning?

Apparently, e-learning system adoption as well as any other industry has to be constantly updated in order to provide the best possible user experience. All the time new features and ideas appear. Therefore, there is always something to upgrade or add.

Needless to say, that social media is not the only sphere to consider. Nevertheless, it might be the best example of how to increase user engagement and develop a student-centric product. It is possible to elevate the traditional learning curve by using various social media features that have proven their effectiveness.

These techniques can help to provide students with the most necessary materials and courses that correspond to their needs and priorities. As a result, it is possible to implement the adaptive learning approach in MOOCs.

Student-centric method partly equals the individual one. Meaning, that the curriculum can be built based on the individual’s learning curve specifics. This results in a better online education experience.

Additionally, improved communicational features help not only to build a peer-to-peer network but enable various blogs and groups. As a result, the online education process, supplemented by additional useful means of communication improves the overall online education. From the tutor’s perspective, it is simpler and more comfortable to post learning materials and track the student’s success. Using the form of a blog is also more sociable. It allows interaction with the students. Unlike the peer-to-peer social network, this e-learning method allows for creating full-scale threads with discussions and debates on controversial topics.

Eventually, the implementation of social media features into online education has proven its efficiency. Giving the students options to interact with others, generate their own content, and share it, helps to encourage the community and make it proactive. It all creates the feeling of collaborative learning for peers, which increases their productivity. One of the most recognizable embodiments of such an approach is SkillShare. In fact, it is an educational platform, that combines both social media and e-learning industries. As a result, most of the courses are created by the users themselves. Mostly, they are sharing their experience and the learning process is reminiscent of a forum, where everyone discusses the topic, proposing their own ideas and solutions that are accompanying the tutor’s manuals.

Summing Up

All the foregoing is just a small part of various possible ways to use the features from other industries for online education. Of course, developers can ignore them and use other solutions or generate and embody totally new ideas and options. However, in this case, it is important to understand that it will take more time and resources. On the other hand, integration of already existing features is resource-intensive as well. Nonetheless, the end result of these integrations is easy to predict and simpler to embody.

Summing all the above it is possible to conclude that social media features are a great addition to e-learning software. This is an approach to refine the traditional thinking of EdTech start-ups.

In case you still have any questions or ideas, or looking for consultation - we are eager to help you. As a matter of fact, our team has experience in developing such products and would be glad to help you to shape and develop your concept.

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